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It was almost midnight on Valentine’s Day. After two flights and running through Dallas International, Bob bought me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup at a gas station outside of Dulles. This is my absolute favorite candy, so nobody can say he isn’t a romantic! Bob isn’t the flower and heart-shaped box of bon bons kinda guy… still, this feminist never aspired to be treated like a queen, or a princess for that matter.

I thought about a lunch table conversation we had a few days earlier with the Love Bug. Her Dad, the Groom, was schooling her on the difference between “Real” and “Not Real.” She is only four, so I was thinking a little magic might be in order, but he was serious. Dinosaurs are tricky, since they were real, but aren’t around anymore. Of course monsters are definitely NOT real. And then we came to princesses.

The Groom explained about cartoons. I remarked that a certain guest at the wedding actually worked at Disney. The Love Bug brought up Pochahontas – which as we all know was really a Native American princess of sorts. And then the Bride chimed in with Princess Kate, so as much as this generation of parents would rather their daughters play sensibly with gender-neutral toys, sometimes little girls just have to be pretend princesses.

In fact, Aunt KiKi (aka Ms Cait) looked just like a princess on her wedding day last week.

In REAL news today, a princess in Spain will not be going to the tower, uh jail.

A Spanish court on Friday acquitted King Felipe VI’s sister, Princess Cristina, of charges that she helped her husband evade taxes, in a case that shamed the royal family. Her husband, however, Inaki Urdangarin, was given a jail sentence of six years and three months for siphoning off millions of euros between 2004 and 2006 from a foundation he headed in the island of Majorca.  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/verdict-due-spanish-royals-fraud-trial-041850122.html

It’s always hard to return to the Real World after a vacation. No more swimming in a warm pool, followed by a warmer hot tub. No more bocce ball. And since we had scheduled some tile work for this week, I am stuck at home. Trying to return to this time zone, doing laundry, catching up with myself. And yesterday I made the mistake of watching a “so-called” press conference.

To use a British term, I was gobsmacked! Mr T toyed with the press and our allies like that killer cougar, P-45 the King of Malibu, who is stalking the hills of LA. “The “P” comes from Puma concolor, the species whose common names include puma, panther, catamount, cougar, and mountain lion.” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/13/lions-of-los-angeles

You’ve seen how a house cat plays with a mouse I’m sure, just imagine this puma killing an alpaca. Mr T smiled and teased the reporters, threw out blatant lies, and pontificated to his heart’s content. He won’t tell us what he’s going to do with that Russian ship, he said with a gleam in his eye.

This cannot be real. Am I the only one frightened by his rhetoric, his stupidity, his apparent need for self-aggrandizement. We have a wild, uncontrollable, narcissistic president who would be king, and Princess Ivanka needs to school him, and tell him he has no clothes.

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Love is in the air. 

We’re coming home from California where the clouds touch the mountains. Where you can surf in the morning, and ski in the afternoon. 
The wedding was like a midsummer daydream. Ms Cait was the most stunning bride; she and the Rocker make an amazing couple. The Force is with them both!

How does one keep Love alive? You nurture your souls. You accept your flaws, you celebrate your success. You cook together. You sit silently sometimes and listen always. 

To keep Cupid hovering around you isn’t hard, but it does take a commitment.  These two have what it takes. 

I’ll love you both forever and always!

Traveling Tuesday

We don’t like to travel when everyone else does; we always took the kids out of school no matter what the school had to say about our travel plans. We’d pack up their work for the week and zoom, off we’d go. Sometimes they actually did the work! And since today is the Tuesday before the Rocker’s wedding, I’m sitting at a gate in Dallas airport waiting for my connection.

I told you I married an iconoclast right?

I’ve stopped twice to apply band-aids to my heels. We shared a chicken salad sandwich on the first flight. I texted the Bride and we just called Great Grandma Ada. 

The troops will arrive in waves. Nashville tomorrow, New Jersey on Thursday. Friday we’re throwing a “Groom’s Dinner” for all the friends and family. I told Bob to be prepared for tears. I know I will cry, mothers and sons are just made that way. He is my youngest, my “itchy bon number one son” as the Flapper used to say. My perpetual motion toddler – while looking at his baby pictures I realized he is being held in Every. Single. One. 

Because otherwise, he’d be gone by the time you pushed the button on your camera. 

All that time spent running, playing on the beach, playing the violin in order to receive his first Fender at the age of eight. Forming a heavy metal band in our garage in high school, and touring the world with the Parlor Mob. Other moms told me their kids were “finding themselves.” We always knew – his sense of self was never in question, he forged ahead and left us behind when he followed his dreams to LA. 

And his best decision was hitching his star to Ms Cait. They are in perfect orbit, forming a new constellation. I wish them a life full of art, love and beauty, music and blue skies. And when clouds appear, which they sometimes do in life, just laugh and outrun them. I’ll pick up some more band-aids.   

Feel Good Friday

OK, so we’re all getting plump on comfort food. We’ve participated in a peaceful demonstration or two, or three…we’ve made calls to the Hill asking that our already “Great” country stop pissing off the rest of the world. Too late, even the Terminator is tired of his tirades. What’s a girl to do?

Retail Therapy of course! I had lunch with Anita this week in the Heart of the Confederacy; which may be second in fervor only to my town, the Capital of the Resistance. And since a certain Rocker Wedding is coming up, I thought I’d do myself a favor and find a good concealer. You know that magical make-up tool that can take ten years off your life. I’ve tried every drug store variety to no avail; too raccoon-like, too cakey, too too.

Nordstrom is my cathedral of choice ever since I stepped foot into their San Francisco store with live piano music in the lobby (and it wasn’t Christmas). I met the Real Cher at the jewelry counter, it was really her in a cowgirl hat, and later found myself treated with dignity and respect by the shopgirls. Today, the Richmond Nordstrom lives up to its name, and has shopboys to boot.

The cosmetics section was hopping after lunch when Anita stopped for some creamy blush. That’s when it hit me, my total concealer fail. Here is my warning to all women of a certain age – NEVER sit down at the cosmetics counter in a fancy department store. Bobbie Brown had me at “Hi, my name is Judy, how can I help you?”

An hour and a half later I had an entirely new face and the smallest, most expensive grey Nordstrom bag stuffed with serums and elixirs and creams promising immortality. Honest. Oh and that thing I wanted, concealer, it was being mailed to me because they were out of it…that Judy could sell Finasteride to Mr T to grow hair…wait.

My therapy continued at the Verizon store where I purchased a new Iphone 7. Since Judy had wrangled all my contact information out of me, and I almost never give out my email, I was shocked to see all the buzz about Nordstrom in the news on my new cellphone. I finally remembered my Twitter Password when all these heart-felt apologies started scrolling down my palm.

“We’ve always said our buying decisions are guided by brand performance and based on that, we decided not to buy it this season.” 

That sounds strangely like “We decided not to renew his/her contract,” like “You’re Fired” in a nice, democratic tone. What was all the hubub about?

Ivanka Trump’s brand of course. Before I sat down at the Bobbie Brown counter, I had picked up a pair of Ivanka Trump shoes, and had a visceral feeling when I saw that name. Like my hand had been burned. I put them down immediately, and felt the blood rush to my cheeks. I knew enough not to buy Mr T’s wine, but hadn’t heard about this:

“The “Grab Your Wallet” campaign has now targeted more than 60 companies — a group that includes Trump’s golf courses and hotels, those that sell Trump-branded goods, and other businesses whose leaders endorsed Trump or donated to his campaign.”

Now this is a Buycott I can get behind. Thank you Nordstrom! https://grabyourwallet.org

Next week we’ll be headed to the desert for Ms Cait and the Rocker’s big day. Continually beading bracelets in shades of green has given me solace as well. African turquoise, jade, Dragonblood jasper and jade are spinning round and round in my hands, like Rosary beads that once offered redemption and courage.  img_0006

 

Busy Morning

The bitter cold is back, so I bundled up in my pink pussy hat and gloves. Today was our first day of action as a couple, and Bob and I wanted to stay warm in the wind chill of minus freezing. But first maybe I should back-up.

After the Women’s March on Washington, I was commiserating with Great Grandma Ada about the day. She really wanted to go, but I’m glad she didn’t. Being packed in like sardines for almost eight hours, in a wheelchair, would have been a bit much at 92. Or 82 even. So she listened to my excitement, then calmly told me what her book club was doing about Mr T’s agenda.

She had me Google “Indivisible,”and told me about this movement across the country to basically use the Tea Party’s strategies to further the Progressive agenda and stop Mr T at every turn. You know, the same way they stopped immigration reform in its tracks. This was way before Mr T instituted a Muslim Ban, or kicked the Joint Chiefs out  of the National Security briefings, plugging in his favorite conspiracy theorist, Steve Bannon.

You know the guy, the one who said “Islam is not a religion of peace, it’s a religion of submission.”

Well I submit to you, Bob and I liked what we saw on https://www.indivisibleguide.com so we downloaded the entire manifesto and printed it out. We also joined their Google group; and that’s how we found ourselves sitting in a packed church this past weekend. Bob turned to me and said, “Do I really have to be a revolutionary again?” I said, “Yes!”

Which brings me back to today. I wrote a letter to our GOP Representative, Tom Garrett, about not wanting Congress to throw out the ACA without fixing it, or replacing it. I told him how the Rocker’s old friend had been diagnosed with MS and had no health insurance. Obamacare saved his life. I told him that I knew how local government works, and that health care in this country should not be politicized. We joined a few hundred in front of Mr Garrett’s office, and I hand-delivered my letter to his secretary and spoke with his Outreach Director who declined to come outside..

Meanwhile the Mayor of Cville, Mike Signer, was holding a rally on the Downtown Mall against the latest Travel (Muslim) Ban. The Gold Star father, Mr Khizr Khan was there too, as were hundreds of people to protest the ban on seven primarily Muslim countries. It was a glorious, sunny day when the Mayor proclaimed Charlottesville, VA the “Capital of the Resistance!”

Bob and I just saw ourselves on the local TV news during dinner. I must say that was weird. But I’m proud of our city, the one once called Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village, and hopeful about the future. We have a real bully in the White House, and he poked the wrong bear.

ps – The Bride and her family marched in Nashville and they are planning on feeding a homeless shelter in April. The Rocker and Ms Cait are planning their wedding, and also visiting LAX. Thank you Grandma Ada, you raised us right.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/how-to-build-an-autocracy/513872/

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In Living Color

The photographs I have left of my Father, who died when I was a baby, are in black and white. As are my baby pictures, stuffed into a bag in an album that has lost its binding. The Flapper gave me to her friends, my foster parents, after her automobile accident because her only other choice would have been an orphanage. My sister Kay was already taking care of my two brothers, and they had to go back to school, so who else would take care of me?

Nell only had one child, and her daughter was in nursing school when I arrived in Victory Gardens after the War in 1949. And so I was raised by a grandmother figure, as Nell was already in her 50s. And she catalogued my childhood lovingly, pasting black and white pictures with tiny black paper edges onto every page. Only my memories conjure up the white and pink explosion of the dogwood tree outside our kitchen window, the red and white tile in the one bathroom, the green grass under my feet with the white sheets billowing above.

Our TV was in black and white, and after school I would walk home from the bus in my maroon plaid Sacred Heart School uniform, to catch Nell watching Art Linkletter on Kids Say the Darndest Things. A small piano stood in a corner with brass feet and hard white teeth. Our first dog was black and brown, I remember sitting on Daddy Jim’s feet while he read the black and white newspaper, and smoked his pipe after work. I would lean back on his knees and stroke the dog’s fur, listening to his critique of the day’s news. Maybe this is when I thought I might have something to say about world events? clr-on-tricycle-20170127

When we view history through a black and white lens, we lose something of the nuance. The tone is off, and it becomes harder to relate to something that happened so long ago. It creates the distance we need to survive certain tragedies, like my Year of Living Dangerously – my psychologist brother Jim’s description of 1949. Which is why finding this photographer, Marina Amaral, is like finding a jewel in the coal dustbin of time.

Amaral’s passion is restoring and colorizing old black and white pictures. And I found a picture she posted online of a child, a Czechoslovakian girl who was the same age as my sister Kay in 1949, when she died at Auschwitz in 1943. Her name was Czeslawa Kwoka; and I remembered Nell’s given name was Kosty, which was probably changed at Ellis Island. On Amaral’s webpage, you can move a line back and forth over the child’s face, and bring color to her cheeks and blood to the cut on her lip.

“Color has the power to bring life back to the most important moments,” http://www.marinamaral.com

Today more than ever, on Holocaust Memorial Day, we must remember that the Holocaust started with the rhetoric of hate, and the silence and indifference of the rest of Europe and America. And we must vow to resist in any way we can, and we must say her name, Czeslawa Kwoka.

Photograph courtesy of Marina Amaral.

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Meta Mind

Months ago, a friend’s daughter mentioned that she had stopped taking Adderal, a drug that was prescribed years earlier for Attention Deficit (ADD). She was proud of weaning herself off this stimulant and started looking at the world, and her career differently. I was happy for her, since as y’all know I am NOT a pill person – well except for vitamins – and I recommended she read this book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for Economics, even though he is a psychologist.

A therapist friend recommended this book to me, and Bob just finished reading it on our Kindle App, so now it’s my turn. It’s easy enough to say that men are from Mars, but this non-fiction book doesn’t try to explain male vs female minds. In fact, gender has nothing to with it. Instead we find out that our instinctual, fast assessment of any situation is the hero of our cognitive world, and the slower, analytical mind is rather lazy!

System 2, in Kahneman’s scheme, is our slow, deliberate, analytical and consciously effortful mode of reasoning about the world. System 1, by contrast, is our fast, automatic, intuitive and largely unconscious mode. It is System 1 that detects hostility in a voice and effortlessly completes the phrase “bread and. . . . ” It is System 2 that swings into action when we have to fill out a tax form or park a car in a narrow space. (As Kahneman and others have found, there is an easy way to tell how engaged a person’s System 2 is during a task: just look into his or her eyes and note how dilated the pupils are.)  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/books/review/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman-book-review.html

When we speak about the “tone” of a conversation, as we have been doing about Mr T’s recent attempts at a Press Conference, we are engaging System 1. It is the nuanced way we communicate with others, the reason we may meet someone and feel an immediate kinship. I was actually thinking that System 1 may be a higher evolutionary adaptation to an increasingly complex and interconnected technological world. Making a diagnosis of ADD more of a plus, than a minus.

Now Bob’s opinion of an ADD diagnosis is that your environment isn’t sufficiently stimulating. As the student who sat in front of him in French class in the 60s, I know this to be true – his legs were always moving behind my desk, so much so that I felt as if I was on a Disney ride. I am positive he would have been medicated as a child. And our son had a similar level of energy in high school, similar to a race horse in the gate, one very hard to contain in a “normal” classroom. I can already see this fast level of relating to the world in the Love Bug. I can almost see her mind racing to keep up with us; at the age of two she was asking us to teach her how to read!

So the inner-linguist-in-me was delighted to read this morning that in fact, our thoughts may have been shaped by the kind of crops our ancestors grew! http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170118-how-east-and-west-think-in-profoundly-different-ways

 

Growing rice requires far greater cooperation: it is labour-intensive and requires complex irrigation systems spanning many different farms. Wheat farming, by contrast, takes about half the amount of work and depends on rainfall rather than irrigation, meaning that farmers don’t need to collaborate with their neighbours and can focus on tending their own crops.

This BBC article explains how so many social science experiments are biased toward the Western world, more specifically American graduate students who participate in these studies. The idea of Western thought being more frontier in nature, valuing the individual, John Wayne, self-directed approach, as differentiated from Eastern thought which values the whole, group achievement, socialist model over the individual is a narrative based in reality, and not alternative facts.  “…our social environment moulds our minds. From the broad differences between East and West, to subtle variation between US states, it is becoming increasingly clear that history, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways – right down to our visual perception.”

And I would add Red and Blue states to this mix. I once asked a group of women knitting together in a room if in fact every US citizen didn’t deserve to have health care. This was early on, when President Obama was being blocked by every single Republican legislator from passing health insurance reform. And the one Republican knitter in the room said very defiantly “Absolutely not!” She was thinking like a pioneer, and not like someone on the Titanic.

The Flapper loved everything Eastern, including Buddhism, and believed in mindfulness before it was ever trending. Since I received the results of my Ancestry DNA, I realize that my cells are all Irish, with unfortunately no Asian influence. But ever since I was a girl, wearing my Catholic school uniform, my environment taught me to share and think collectively…and maybe now we need to think faster than ever. We need to be the first Jedi.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

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